Friday, April 21, 2017

McGuigan 2016 The Plan Riesling

You don't get much for $10 in your local bottle shop nowadays, but this is a very welcome exception to that rule; a crisp, fresh and food-friendly riesling from the McGuigan family that is one of the best wine bargains to be found right now. The viticultural and winemaking teams have done a great job in turning fruit from broadacre vineyards in the Murray Darling and Riverland regions into a very attractive dry white that offers crisp textures, sweet tangerine/mandarine flavours and just the merest hint of attractive bitterness. Lovely with Asian dishes and exclusive to Dan Murphy's stores. 
$10. www.mcguiganwines.com.au.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Casillero del Diablo 2015 Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon


Take a look at supermarket shelves in England or the US and you'll find an increasing number of high quality, but affordable, red wines from both Chile and Argentina. Wines like this one are fast taking over the former role of Australia at the lower price points; producing flavoursome, uncomplicated value for money. This is one of a range of well-priced wines from Casillero del Diablo, the Chilean offshoot of the massive Spanish wine conglomerate Concha Y Toro. It is soft and smooth, a great barbecue wine, and can be found at Dan Murphy's stores for a silly $13.99. A warning shot local producers should heed.   

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Yard 2016 Riversdale Riesling


This week marks the 10th birthday of Larry Cherubino Wines as a stand-alone entity. If you are not familiar with the name you should be. Cherubino produces several ranges of wines at various price points that share two things in common: extreme quality and outstanding value. It was hard to choose which of several Cherubino wines to feature here; the 2015 The Yard Shiraz from the same Frankland River vineyard is also a standout, as is the Cherubino 2015 Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc. Cherubino has access to some of the finest fruit across Western Australia and makes the best possible use of it. This is an absolutely outstanding dry riesling that has great purity and a most appealing nose. Citrus flavours lead the charge here with rapier-like acidity, limestone minerality and gentle hints of Asian herbs. Simply delicious right now. Try pairing it with some fresh salmon. 
$25. www.larrycherubino.com.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Heartland 2015 First Release Malbec


A new small-batch release from Ben Glaetzer and his talented Heartland team who hope that long-time underachiever malbec is about to strike a chord with Australian drinkers. Wines from Cahors and Argentina have enjoyed some success here, but very few home-grown malbecs have enjoyed sales success. This is 100% malbec from Langhorne Creek, made in a style midway between Cahors and Mendoza, using only new oak. It is inky and black (think vibrant fresh blackberries plucked from a hedgerow), but softer than a baby's bottom on the palate. It is on the bigger side of the spectrum at 14.5% alcohol and would be seen to best advantage paired with roasted red meats; a hearty steak or some lamb chops, perhaps. 
$50. www.heartlandwines.com.au.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cullen 2015 Kevin John Chardonnay


One of Australia's wine icons and the new-release 2015 is strikingly consistent in terms of both style and quality. There is a purity here that is characteristic of Kevin John releases and despite the use of 73% new oak, Vanya Cullen has conjured up a chardonnay of elegance and refinement. Certified biodynamic and carbon neutral, this estate wine was harvested on fruit and flower days from 39-year-old vines - some of the oldest in Margaret River. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in barriques prior to five months of oak maturation that have added intensity and complexity. Think grapefruit and ripe pear characters, nutty oak nuances and delightful balance. This is composed and contemplative; a wine that's happy in its skin and merits 96 points. You'd have to buy at least two bottles of this. One for now and one for enjoyment in 10 years time. $110. www.cullenwines.com.au.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Hither & Yon 2016 Nero d'Avola


There are a couple of things that I love about the Hither & Yon range. There's the cleverly colour-coded labels, which are fun and informative; and the sheer reliability of quality produced by the Leask family from McLaren Vale. I've recently sampled shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and this wine from the same stable, and all offered excellent value and lovely balance. Nero d'Avola is a Sicilian grape that has migrated happily to warmer parts of Australia and, in this incarnation, it is fruit driven, flavoursome and extremely pretty.  An engaging all-purpose red with some herbal notes that would pair well with pizza, pasta or a good book. $30. www.hitherandyon.com.au.     

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Kooyong 2016 Clonale Chardonnay

There is something pretty special about this wine, which shines vintage after vintage. It is made very much in the style of Chablis; fruit forward, lean and chalky. This is a blend of chardonnay from Kooyong's Tuerong and Balnarring vineyards. Only 10% new oak is used but after fermentation the wine is aged on lees for 10 months, adding concentration. There is no fining and minimal filtration, letting the quality fruit speak for itself. Crisp and clean, this has citrus aromas, grapefruit and lemon zest on the palate with a mineral tang. A wine of quality, charm and balance. I'll give this 93/100. $32. www.kooyongwines.com.au.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Yangarra 2016 PF Shiraz


Here’s a very good McLaren Vale shiraz that will appeal to those with green tendencies. The PF Shiraz is made from grapes grown on a certified biodynamic single-estate vineyard, farmed without herbicides, fungicides or synthetic chemicals and made without additions of any kind, including preservatives, acid, tannin or finings. It is a bright and juicy young red, full of intense shiraz flavour and is best enjoyed in its vivacious youth. $25. www.yangarra.com.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Marques de Riscal 1840 Tempranillo 2016

Interest in wines from both Spain and Portugal is growing in Australia, where there is increased appeal in their subtle and savoury flavours and alcohol levels that are often lower than equivalent Australian reds. From the newer vineyards of Castilla and Leon region in northern Spain (not traditional heartland Rioja) and made by one of Spain's most highly-rated wineries, this is a very good introduction to the wines of the Iberian peninsula. It is dark and inky with tempranillo blended with small portions of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. There are black fruits with hints of dark chocolate and smoky oak, but the focus is one quality fruit. This is bottled under screw cap for the Australian market and can be found at Dan Murphy's stores. $16. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wild Rock 2016 Pinot Gris

Wild Rock is the entry level range of esteemed New Zealand producer Craggy Range and this is one of the new releases under the new-look branding. The pinot gris has dropped "sur lie" from the label and is presented in a more fruit focused style. I liked it a lot for its everyday drinking appeal. It is a pale, but intense Marlborough wine with delightful floral aromas and stone fruit flavours. There is some honeyed fruit sweetness but it finishes dry and should have widespread appeal. This would match well with Asian cuisines. One that would benefit from immediate enjoyment. $18. www.wildrockwine.co.nz. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hurley Vineyard 2014 Garamond Pinot Noir

I first came across Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes a decade and a half ago when they were trying to find a retail outlet in Sydney to sell their wines. I was blown away with the quality they were producing as part-timers (Kevin is a Supreme Court judge and his wife a lawyer), and was, fortunately, able to assist. Their wines have only improved since then, and the Hurley pinots are among the finest on the Mornington Peninsula. This is a few months down the track from release and looks spectacular, with everything you'd want in a high-quality pinot. It looks, to use a cliche, distinctly Burgundian, with a bright red fruit bouquet, and an impressive balance between fruit, savoury/sous bois notes and quality oak. Superb - and cellar worthy. I'm edging towards 97/100. $85. www.hurleyvineyard.com.au     

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

La Prova 2016 Aglianico Rosato


As the rosé revolution grows and grows, this is one of the styles that is proving most popular; dry, savoury and cheeky in the European mould. This one from Sam Scott in the Adelaide Hills is made from the Italian grape variety aglianico, which originated in Greece but is now popular in southern parts of Italy. This is a delightfully poised rosé, perfect for pairing with picnics or Middle Eastern cuisine. It's vivacious and cheeky; desperately drinkable with some interesting textures. The kind of wine you'd like to take to a party. $25.
www.scottwines.com.au

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taylors 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

I really couldn't care less what the bearded hipster habitues of oh so funky inner-city wine bars have to say. They can keep their 100% full-bunch wines from the slopes of Mt Etna that have been matured in amphorae. On a hot summer day in Australia, with the sun beating down, a lot of wine drinkers want refreshment, flavour and some crisp acid. This new-release sauvignon blanc from Taylors, which sources fruit from the Adelaide Hills, delivers drinkability in spades - but it won''t be getting too many sommelier recommendations. It is fruity, zesty and fun - everything you'd want in a young sub-$20 white. Chill it, get it in ya. $19. www.taylorswines.com.au.     

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Shingleback 2015 Aficionado Shiraz


Family-owned and -operated Shingleback in McLaren Vale produces a wide range of mainly red wines, including several that are sold exclusively in various supermarket chains. This is one of those; a very drinkable young shiraz at a price that is particularly attractive when cash is tight at this time of the year. Winemaker John Davey, a former JImmy Watson Trophy winner, has hit the bullseye with this richly flavoured wine with well-balanced oak. It's young, vibrant and an excellent barbecue or midweek choice; powerful but not overwhelming. You won't find too many better quaffing reds for $15.  Exclusive to Vintage Cellars. www.shingleback.com.au.